Thursday :: Jun 29, 2006

Supreme Court Rules Bush Overstepped Law, Geneva Conventions At Guantanamo


by Steve

MSNBC image

So he isn't an emperor after all.

The Supreme Court this morning has ruled that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military trials for Guantanamo detainees, sending a stunning rebuke to the Executive Branch, which argued that Congress granted them sole power over the treatment of Al Qaeda members at a time of war.

The 5-3 majority opinion found that Bush violated both American law and the Geneva Convention protocols by ordering such trials, two years after the same court ruled against Bush’s policy of seizing and detaining suspects indefinitely while denying them due process. Today, the court said that in the absence of a clear congressional authorization to ignore the Geneva Convention protocols, Bush cannot insist on military tribunals. And as Glenn Greenwald noted, the court went further and decided against the administration's argument that the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) granted the executive such implicit authority, even though Congress was silent on this matter in that act. As Glenn noted, this would seem to undermine one of the Administration's basic claims in avoiding FISA jurisdiction in the NSA wiretapping case, that the 2001 AUMF gave them this unspecified authority. Today, the court tossed that argument out with regards to detentions and military trials, and in the absence of clear congressional authority to the contrary, established the primacy of the Geneva Convention protocols, which would seem to undermine much of the Administration's defense for not only Guantanamo but for the secret rendition program as well.

It is noteworthy that in today’s decision, the five-justice majority overturned the appeals court decision of John Roberts, who had whitewashed this case for the administration and had to recuse himself from today’s 5-3 vote against Bush.

So what does it mean when your Commander in Chief has been found by the highest court in his own country to have violated American law and the Geneva Convention protocols? And what credibility and influence does your Chief Justice have with his fellow justices after getting spanked like this today?

And which is more disgraceful, a newspaper reporting on a story that was already bragged about by a president repeatedly (i.e., NSA monitoring of overseas banking), or that same president being found to have repeatedly violated international and American law?

Note in the dissenting opinions how ready Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia were to castrate their own institution and how willing they were to transfer authority to the conservative chief executive, for as long as Bush said there was a war on terror:

"It is not clear where the court derives the authority — or the audacity — to contradict" Congress and the executive branch, Scalia wrote.

It’s called Marbury v. Madison, you fu*king political hack.

Both seem to think there is no role for the judicial branch here, which I'm sure wouldn't be the case had this been a President Gore with a Democratic congress. But then again, if Scalia and Thomas had been consistent in their view of states' rights when deciding Bush v. Gore, and we had a President Gore, then we wouldn't be talking about a chief executive who has been violating the Geneva Convention protocols in the first place.

Note that Arlen “Single Bullet” Specter took the opportunity today to poke a finger in the eye of the administration, reminding them that he had tried as far back as 2002 to work with the White House to fix this problem, but had been rebuffed. But there may be a battle now within the GOP Senate to see who will carry the bill and how far it will go. Besides Specter’s bill, Lindsey Graham said he will rush to the rescue, and now Bill Frist has seen an opportunity to pander to the cultists and says he will carry a bill also. Let’s see how willing any of them are to blow off the Geneva protocols in an election year when the public increasingly distrusts this president and thinks he is claiming too much power already.

After seeing this abandonment of judicial review today by Thomas, Scalia, and Alito, John Marshall must be spinning in his grave.

Steve :: 7:38 AM :: Comments (79) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!